Buhari and the Curse of the Wristwatch


The last time a wristwatch caused so much furore was way back in 1990. Then I was just an impressionable kid enamored by all things IBB (Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida), the first military president of Nigeria.

Apparently, there is a big difference between Head of State and President. Babangida always did things in style, so instead of calling himself ‘Head of State’ like other successful coupists before him, he chose the title of ‘President’ after booting out Buhari in August 1985.

Anyway, back to wristwatches.

1990 was five years after seizing power from Buhari; it was then he decided in his presidential wisdom that his erstwhile power and steel minister, Professor Tam David West (who was also the petroleum minister under Buhari), was an extremely corrupt public officer. This accusation was rich coming from a leader said to have perfected the art of corruptly enriching everybody.

Legends say only Gani Fawehinmi, the irrepressible lawyer was able to resist IBB’s overtures.

After a short but sensational trial, Tam David West was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to life imprisonment. His crime? Accepting a wristwatch as gift and drinking tea from Stinnes Oil Company. Some Nigerians of a certain age and disposition will never believe this story. Wasn’t it ex-President Goodluck Jonathan that scared the living devil out of voters in Enugu by reminding them that Buhari was barely human for sending Jim Nwobodo (former governor of old Anambra state) to prison for stealing money that was not even enough to buy a Peugeot car?

Well, a man of GEJ’s disposition would say IBB commited a far greater atrocity, because he jailed a man not for stealing, but for accepting a wristwatch and then proceeding to drink tea. Fast forward 25 years later. Another person linked to Buhari was in a mess over a wristwatch.

Give it up for the beautiful Aisha Buhari, wife of the President and Commander in Chief of the Arm forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The wristwatch charge against her is pretty straightforward. She is accused and was found guilty of blatantly wearing and displaying a N10 million naira 18 carat gold and diamond encrusted wristwatch from Cartier Bagnoire Folle (good luck to you if you can pronounce that) on inauguration day. How dare she! Clearly she had no right to do that given the stature of her husband as an austere, morally upright gentleman. Self-righteous knives were unsheathed and a storm of words unleashed on the Buharis for such a show of shame.

Some badly hurt folks even called the couple a fraud.

Her defenders quickly rushed to calm the nation’s wounded pride. The watch they claimed is just a replica of the real thing and it didn’t cost more than $130! Nonsense! How can a pretty Lady from a well connected, prominent Yola family married to an influential man like Buhari wear a cheap knock off jewelry.

That is making a mockery of her taste and class. It is an insult to her.

It is not as if an IBB or a similar evil genius is lurking in some dark cranny just waiting for a chance to haul her pretty face to prison like Tam David West. I hope we don’t get bogged down by things like what women wear when discussing the Buhari Presidency.

  • When Buhari starts recklessly spending our money buying the things he didn’t have (though he never complained of not having shoes growing up) in his former life;
  • When he spends our oil money to buy another presidential jet;
  • When his ministers are buying bullet proof cars;
  • Or he decides to pocket the bonus from an oil mining lease,

Just wake me up to join the campaign on how to bring down Buhari.

This wristwatch thing is ogogoro joint talk.